Prince George, B.C. – Exposure to asbestos may not impact you today, it may not impact you a year or two from now, but it certainly could be the cause of serious illness and death 10 to 40 years down the road.
Asbestos is the number one killer of workers in B.C. says WorkSafe BC .
In the past ten years, nearly 600 workers in this province lost their lives because of diseases related to being exposed to asbestos. And with home renovations being a viable option to selling and moving, asbestos exposure is something to seriously consider before undertaking even a minor renovation.
( image at right points out the possible locations for asbestos in an older home- image courtesy WorkSafe BC)
- Vinyl tile and lino floor coverings,
- Roof felt and shingles
- Loose, blown-in insulation, such as vermiculite
- Gypsum board filling compound, and patching and joint compound for walls and ceilings
- Incandescent light fixture backing
- Deck undersheeting
Over the summer, WorkSafe conducted a survey to see how much home owners knew about asbestos and the results were surprising says Al Johnson, WorkSafe BC’s Vice President of Prevention Field Services “The survey verified some of our thoughts and it is a bit surprising. Fewer than one in ten British Columbians pinpoint asbestos disease as the number one cause of worker deaths in this Province. So they didn’t know that asbestos is killing workers at an alarming rate.”
The results of the survey have sparked WorkSafe to launch an education campaign to raise awareness about the presence of asbestos and the dangers it can pose to you, your family, or those who have been hired to do those renovations.
Johnson says the survey also showed only one in three who had renovated a home built before 1990 actually tested the site for asbestos before the renovations got underway. “That indicates to us, that we have a great opportunity to help homeowners understand asbestos, and the role they have to play when it comes to renovation or demolition”.
“Demolition and renovation are very active in today’s market place ” says Johnson. Certainly here in Prince George renovations accounted for nearly $26.25 million dollars in permit values issued in the first ten months of this year. That’s about 22% of the year to date total permit values for all construction in Prince George.
That survey also showed only half of those surveyed believe they have some role to play in looking for asbestos or testing for asbestos before there are any renovations to their home. “This is a shared responsibility” says Johnson “It’s a shared responsibility with the homeowner to take that next step and think about asbestos, identify asbestos and remove asbestos safely following the proper procedures, so you can get the rest of the work done safely.”
Sometimes, when a major education campaign is launched it is a precursor to new rules, regulations or legislation, Johnson says that is not the case with this effort “Our campaign is about awareness” says Johnson, who points to a special website “It is a new website, it is focused to homeowners who are doing renovations and demolition and trying to highlight a number of materials in older homes that might contain asbestos. Be conscious of those materials, be aware of those materials, and if you have them and you are going to sand them or cut them or break them up during a renovation or demolition ,then take the precaution. Identify whether that material has asbestos or not, and then do the work safely.”